When it comes to SEO there are a multitude of metrics that we can use to identify how well a campaign is progressing. Of these, Domain Authority (DA) can be used to understand how a site is doing on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), and how it compares to competitors’ sites. In this article we look at why this metric is important and the growing relevance of trusted backlinks.
What is Domain Authority?
The Domain Authority measures the website’s likelihood to rank on search engines, and therefore is a good indicator of the domain’s strength. If your website DA is higher than that of your competitors, then your site is stronger and has a greater ability to acquire organic traffic from search engines, particularly Google.
After the demise of Google’s Toolbar PageRank six years ago, a new solution was needed to help identify the strength of domains or websites. There were no shortage of candidates to fill this void, giving our industry the essential tools to measure and compare again. Of most significance, Ahrefs launched Domain Rating, and Moz introduced Domain Authority – both providing reliable and accurate data.
In August 2019 Domain Authority was significantly updated, impacting the DA scores of millions of websites. The good news appears to be that sites which had been getting good DA scores achieved through less reputable methods, verging on black-hat strategies, have seen their scores tumble. More on this later, but its seems that the update is emphasising the relevance of quality backlinks from trusted sources. This follows Google’s recommended SEO methods, and those practiced by Oxfinder. Phew! We experienced an increase in DA scores for some of our clients sites, and had little or no effect on others.
If you want to quickly see the domain authority of a website you can use a number of free tools like Small SEO Tools here.
How is the authority of a domain calculated?
Whether we use ‘Domain Authority’ or ‘Domain Rating’ the fundamental way scores are calculated is fairly similar. Essentially it is about the quantity and quality of backlinks coming into a website. The websites providing these backlinks each have their own authority score, and greater value is given to backlinks which come from higher authority sites.
For example, oxfordcity.co.uk has a good domain authority because of the large number of quality backlinks from Governmental and Educational linking domains.
The relevance or profile of the links in and out of websites is also considered when calculating the DA score. A page on a website which has links to credible, higher authority sources and in turn receives backlinks by similarly credible sources will achieve a good link profile. The anchor text used for these links adds even further weight. For example, a backlink to one of our SEO pages on this website with the anchor text “Oxfinder” will have less value than “seo specialists”.
All these signals contribute towards calculating a Domain Authority score which is presented on a scale of 0-100. The score will continually change, but achieving a good score and then targeting a great score should be key to any SEO campaign.
Why are quality backlinks important?
Creating original content, and if possible publishing it regularly is the foundation for encouraging good backlinks into a website. With Google driving a value-based search system it becomes important to focus SEO initiatives on growing quality backlinks from trustworthy high authority websites.
If Domain Authority determines the likelihood of a website to rank on search engines, then it makes sense to focus on one of the primary signals which influences Domain Authority – quality backlinks.
Majestic’s Trust Flow metric and others like MozTrust, in simple terms determine the quality of a website based on its links with other sites within the same topic or niche. By creating regular, relevant content on a topic which addresses the needs of the target audience, will attract more users, as well as attract more backlinks. If the backlinks are encouraged through sites within the same niche, the Trust Flow and ultimately the authority of the domain will increase.
So quality backlinks are regarded as very important for website owners because the higher the trust flow, the better likelihood of ranking on Google. To satisfy Google’s value-based system means that you’re helping Google verify your website as an expert source of content and rank higher or closer to the top of search results.
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